Ancient Monuments

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Refectory of St Mary's Priory in Cathedral Close

A Scheduled Monument in Cathedral, Worcestershire

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Latitude: 52.1882 / 52°11'17"N

Longitude: -2.2212 / 2°13'16"W

OS Eastings: 384976.037112

OS Northings: 254462.481531

OS Grid: SO849544

Mapcode National: GBR 1G4.WSK

Mapcode Global: VH92T.G83C

Entry Name: Refectory of St Mary's Priory in Cathedral Close

Scheduled Date: 30 November 1925

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1005308

English Heritage Legacy ID: WT 266

County: Worcestershire

Electoral Ward/Division: Cathedral

Built-Up Area: Worcester

Traditional County: Worcestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Worcestershire

Church of England Parish: Worcester St Nicholas and All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Worcester


Monastic refectory 60m south west of Christ and St. Mary’s Cathedral.

Source: Historic England


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 20 May 2015. This record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records. As such they do not yet have the full descriptions of their modernised counterparts available. Please contact us if you would like further information.

This monument includes a monastic refectory situated in the Worcester Cathedral Precincts on the east side of the River Severn. The monument survives as a refectory and undercroft that was constructed of coursed sandstone in about 1076 with the upper walls rebuilt between 1360 and 1380 and restored during the 19th century. The refectory is approximately 40m long and 15m wide with large stepped buttresses situated at the eastern end. The lower part of the northern wall is shared with the southern wall of the cathedral cloister and the western wall is shared with a house and school rooms. The southern wall of the refectory has seven round arched undercroft openings with a continuous roll moulded hoodmould and two flat headed openings to the south west. The lower parts of the wall have shallow buttresses between each undercroft opening and a round headed doorway with five orders of arches on four slender columns at the eastern end. The upper stage has five three-light windows with decorated tracery. Five similar three-light windows are visible on the northern wall above the pitch roof of the cloister. The western end of the refectory has a seven-light window with decorated tracery and the eastern elevation has a five-light window with reticulated tracery and trefoil heads within an arched recess. The undercroft has five large central columns with plain caps supporting a groin vault. Cross walls sub divided the undercroft after the dissolution and two barrel vaults were inserted at each end. A round headed entrance to the cloister passage is situated in the eastern wall with two further entrances in the western wall. Inside the refectory is a large 13th century stone relief of Christ in Majesty is situated on the interior of the eastern wall above a stone cornice with two pairs of empty niches flanking the relief.

In 1970 two burials were excavated from beneath the undercroft that has been dated to between 483 and 643.

The refectory is also known as College Hall which is a part of the Kings School and is listed at Grade I.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Early monasteries were built to house communities of monks or nuns; sometimes houses were `mixed' and included both sexes. The main buildings provided facilities for worship, accommodation and subsistence. They included a series of timber halls and perhaps a stone church, all located within some form of enclosure. The Benedictine monks, who wore dark robes, came to be known as `black monks'. These dark robes distinguished them from Cistercian monks who became known as `white monks' on account of their light coloured robes. Over 150 Benedictine monasteries were founded in England. As members of a highly successful order many Benedictine houses became extremely wealthy and influential. Their wealth can frequently be seen in the scale and flamboyance of their buildings. Benedictine monasteries made a major contribution to many facets of medieval life and all examples exhibiting significant surviving archaeological remains are worthy of protection. Despite modern alterations, repairs and its conversion into a school hall and club house, the monastic refectory south west of Christ and St. Mary’s Cathedral survives comparatively well and forms an integral part of a nationally important abbey. The refectory contains a number of architectural features of considerable interest and elements of earlier structures will remain concealed behind later stone and brickwork and will provide important information on its construction and rebuilding.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Page, W, Willis-Bund, J W (editors), The Victoria History of the County of Worcester: Volume IV, (1924)
Pevsner, N, Brooks, A, The Buildings of England: Worcestershire, (2007)
Barker, P. A., Cubberley, A. L., Crowfoot, E., & Radford, C. A. R., Two burials under the refectory at Worcester Cathedral, Medieval Archaeology: Volume 18 (1974).
Pastscape Monument Nos:- 116217 & 116219

Source: Historic England

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